Solo Travel in Tromso
Types of Girl about the Globe – Active GatG, Nature GatG, Stargazing GatG, Wildlife GatG
I'm still in Norway! This week I've taken the whole week off and am exploring Tromso in the Arctic Circle. The thought of reindeer sledding and learning more about the Sami culture, as well as being a Bond girl on a snow mobile, whilst visiting ice domes, just makes me want to burst with excitement. And I didn't even mention seeing the Northern Lights too!
I don't have much left on my travel wish list but these experiences are at the very top! And this Norwegian city seems the perfect place to indulge in my inner child (just in time for my birthday). Plus, being able to be here whilst so much of the world is in lock down is a blessing. So, if you want to experience these too plus a fjord cruise and whale watching, then this Tromso guide will help. Just read the full article or click the relevant section for your Tromso holidays.
Why Visit Tromsø?
Stay for – 3 nights
Did you know? Tromsø is called the Paris of the North.
You can’t miss Tromsø off your Norway itinerary. This place should be at the beginning of your Nordic adventures. Known as the ‘Gateway to the Arctic,’ Tromsø is one of the best places in the world to see the Northern Lights due to its winter darkness. Visit September, October, and March for the best sightings.
It is also a known spot for whale watching with humpback whales and killer whales within its waters which you can see from October to mid-February. If you come at the right time of year you may be able to see the whales and the Northern Lights at the same time.
As well as breathtaking scenery and quiet, tranquil nature, this city in northern Norway above the Arctic Circle has a historic centre with the familiar centuries old wooden houses that you see across Norway. Wander around the Market Square taking in the great views and stopping at Fangstmonument, the statue of a whaler in a boat, a memorial to the fisherman who have lost their lives in the Arctic. The most iconic monument here is the Arctic Cathedral with a pointy roof and tall stained glass windows that dominate the city’s skyline.
If you love adventure, Tromsø is perfect. Paraglide from the surrounding mountains, go skiing, husky sledding or ice-fishing. Tromsø has everything you need for an Arctic adventure – pink sunsets, snowy landscapes and a gorgeous array of Northern Lights. You may even spot a reindeer or two.
Is Tromso Safe?
Tromsø is really safe for women travelling alone and the midnight sun helps to navigate your way around the city at night making it feel even safer. The Norwegians are very friendly too.
Local’s Tip – “If you go for the whale watching, come before the end of February.”
Solo’s Tip – “Avoid Sundays as the city seems to shut down on this day.”
Tromso Norway Northern Lights
Although there is never a guarantee that you will see the Northern Lights, Tromsø is one of the best places to spot them. The lights are meant to be at their strongest between 8pm and 2am. Tromsø is a great base for a Northern Lights chase but you may not even have to book a tour as there’s a chance that you can see them on your own if the sky is clear.
The Arctic Cathedral
The Arctic Cathedral Tromsø, known as the Tromsdalen Church is so different from others. The triangular structure and stained glass windows give it a different look from a traditional cathedral. Visit during dusk to see it in a magical light as it lights up the skyline. You may even find a concert on at the time that you visit with amazing acoustics. You have to pay to enter. (TIME 1-2 hours). * Find out more
Take a Tromsø Cruise
Whether you want to go whale watching or just enjoy the tranquility of the fjords, you can view the little towns around Tromsø on a fjord cruise, a different way to sightsee the city. Fjord cruises take at least an hour and leave from the city centre sailing around Tromsø Island or to the ice edge in Ramjorden. As well as seeing whales you may even pass a reindeer. (TIME 1 hour+).
Things To Do in Tromsø Norway
Escape the crowds
Head 45 minutes out of town to the little village of Grotfjord where you can hike in the mountains away from the hustle and bustle.
In the world’s most northerly botanical gardens near the university, you’ll find plants from all different regions such as the Rocky Mountains and the Himalayas, not just the Arctic. Visit during the summer and you may even find the Tibetan blue poppies in bloom.
Get a great view
From the top of Mount Storstein where you can see the mountains and surrounding fjords. The Fjellheisen cable car runs from Solliveien in Tromsdalen and takes less than 5 minutes up the mountain ledge, Storsteinen. If you're feeling active, you can hike to the top instead or take the cable car and do the short hike on top. This is also a great spot for stargazing too.
You can also get a good view from the ski jumping tower and if you like hiking you can walk from the university to the ski jumping tower to get some exercise for the view, instead of taking the ski lift.
Interact with the locals
Madelasletta is a lovely neighbourhood with a waterfront trail where you’ll find locals going for a Sunday stroll. Sit at the waterfront and admire the view while striking up a conversation.
Places to enjoy the sun
At Telegrafbukta near the Tromsø museum. It’s the local beach and a popular place for enjoying the sun (in the summer of course).
If you can venture outside of the city head to Grotfjord where you’ll find the locals sunbathing on the sandy beach.
If you get a chance to visit in September your trip may coincide with the SMAK Tromsø Food Festival, a celebration of Norwegian food. It’s an ideal time to try local dishes on a budget. Visit in December for the Christmas market stalls in Market Square.
There are so tours in Tromsø, and even if you don't pre-book one there are plenty of outlets for you to buy a tour here, including for the Northern Lights. I do recommended booking all your Tromso day tours if you're travelling here in the busy seasons especially a Tromso Aurora tour, just to make sure that you don't miss out.
Greenlander are a local tour company who offer small and eco friendly trips. See the Northern Lights with Markus or go on a winter kayaking trip.
Go whale watching on a whale safari Tromso, and ride to Skjervøy to spot humpback whales and orcas, as well as sea eagles and other sea life. Whale watching usually takes place from October to mid- February.
Get Your Guide – Get Your Guide helps you to find top-rated activities and Tromso excursions. Choose from a husky dog sledding adventure, snowmobiling, a RIB boat excursion or a Northern Lights walking tour. If you are there between September and April you can chase the Aurora Borealis, snug in insulated overalls, with the expertise of a guide in tow. There are several to choose from and it’s really simple to use. Just check the reviews, price and availability then book online.
Tromsø Activities For All Solos
If you like hiking, head to Tromsdalen, a valley to the east of the city that’s a gorgeous area to walk around. You’ll find trails for any length whether you want to hike for an hour or a whole day.
Hike to Prestvannet Lake. If you’re there in the winter months the lake can freeze, so you can hike around it and on it! The way up to the lake offers great views but can be a bit steep so you may want to take an easier walk.
Tromso is the perfect place for some snow adventure. If you’ve never been snowshoeing before, here is a good place to try. Go snowshoeing, feed the reindeers and see the Tromsø Ice Domes at the same time. * Check prices, dates and availability
Get adventurous with huskies on a husky sledding ride. You can mush your own team of huskies and enjoy a chocolate cake at the end. * Check dates, prices and availability
Do as the Norwegians do and catch yourself a fish. There are lots of opportunities to fish for cod, halibut or trout and you can do ice fishing with a guide too.
Arty & Museum GatG
Tromsø has enough museums to keep you busy during your trip. Here’s my pick of the most interesting.
The Polar Museum – Learn about the country’s expedition history, find out why the Northern Lights happen, and learn more about the rest of Northern Norway including the Svalbard Islands. This museum depicts how life was in history so if you are an animal lover you may find some of the scenes uncomfortable.
Polaria – Is an Arctic aquarium with a very distinct building design. It also houses a panoramic cinema where you can watch movies about the Arctic and the Northern Lights. They do have bearded seals which are an Arctic species. I usually don't promote zoos or aquariums and am unsure how ethical this is, but visit yourself to make your own mind up.
Nordnorsk Kunstmuseum – If you love art, this museum is free to enter and is a great exhibition about Sami art and the culture of northern Scandinavia. It has a beautiful interior and there are handouts with English explanations.
Perspektivet Museum – To find out what Tromsø looked like in the past, this museum has images and videos of the city in bygone days. It’s free to enter so if you have a spare afternoon and have seen and done everything else, it’s a good budget choice for something to do.
- Go down to the harbour and check out the cruise boats. You may even be allowed on the Hurtigruten boat to order a drink in the cafe and admire the view from the boat.
- Hiring a car may be a cheaper option to taking the tours. Plus you can have as much freedom as you choose.
- With food being expensive here, most restaurants serve lunch deals so you can save money on your lunch until 5pm.
Learn about Norway’s native people by spending time with the Sami tribe and experiencing the true Norwegian traditions of the Sami culture. Listen to stories and songs and try the cuisine from inside a traditional Sami tent. Then feed a herd of reindeer and enjoy a reindeer sleigh ride. * Check dates, price and availability
Tromsø has a wide range of shops including some upmarket ones. Storgata is the city’s main pedestrian street and has both international and local shops. For malls, Jekta is one of the largest malls in northern Europe and can be found near the airport. You can buy souvenirs at Tromsø Gift & Souvenir Shop which is the oldest one in Tromsø, or purchase a Scandinavian design at Ting.
Feel like a Nordic goddess at the Vulkana spa that offers a Nordic spa experience on an old fishing vessel. Complete with a saltwater hot tub and a Hamman, you’ll find a Zen Lounge to relax in afterwards. You can also combine it with a lunch cruise.
If you don’t have the funds for a whale safari, go to the little village of Kaldfjord where you can sometimes see them from the beach. If you don’t, you can always admire the views here instead. Ersfjordbotn is also a good spot for whale watching and is only 30 minutes from Tromsø. As well as the possibilities of seeing these giant mammals, you can also see the Northern Lights from here.
Have a tourist moment – Go husky sledding. Either be a passenger or be even more touristy and drive the sled. You can even do it for a whole week!
Don’t have much time? If you are short on time, make sure you try and chase the Northern Lights, and do a whale safari – all doable in less than 48 hours.
Where to wear your heels – At the Sky Bar. Not only is it a great bar offering good cocktails but if you’re lucky you may even see the Northern Lights dancing from the terrace.
Where to Meet Others
On one of the tours such as the Tromso Beer Safari, where you can meet others in the afternoon and take a 3 hour tour exploring the city on foot visiting atmospheric pubs and bars in the company of others.
Meet students at Studentsamfunnet Driv, a student hang out with cheap food, locally brewed beer and a stage where you’ll find locals dancing to local gigs. Find at Storgata 6.
Accommodation in Tromso
There isn’t really a hostel scene in Tromsø as there is only one hostel in the city (Tromso Activities Hostel) which is ideal if you are travelling here on a budget and looking to meet others. There are lots of good hotels and apartments which are conveniently located in the centre and walkable distance from most of the sights. Below are recommended accommodation in Tromso for solo female travellers. For all other accommodation, click on the link below.
If you need to work during your stay you have your own work desk. The lobby offers snacks too so you don’t even need to find a restaurant after a long day of sightseeing. Plus it’s only a short walk from the Polar Museum, Aquarium and cruise terminal.
- Prices start from £57/ €64 for a single room with a private bathroom.
- Check prices, dates and availability: Smarthotel Tromso
I love this place. Its location on the fjord in Kaldfjord makes it such a special place. It feels welcoming and homely and I loved the free sauna. I stayed here for 4 nights and experienced husky sledding and the Northern Lights and warm hospitality from Jonathon, the owner. It is in a stunning location if you’re looking to escape the city and be at one in nature. There is a kitchen to cook your own food and you can arrange an airport transfer and stop in the supermarket on the way. Choose from a private room (single beds) with a view of the fjord. All rooms have shared bathrooms.
- Prices from £23 / €26 per night for a mountain view room
- Check prices, dates and availability: MelisHome: Aurora Observatory
With a choice of cabins or places to put your own tent, Tromsø Camping is in a perfect location for those who want to be close to the city yet stay in nature. You are also close to the hiking trails of Tromsdalen.
- Prices start from £57 /€64 for an economy cabin (less if you have a tent)
- Check dates, prices and availability: Tromso Lodge and Camping
The Scandic Grand Tromsø offers a buffet breakfast and free tea and coffee. Located on a shopping street, the main attractions are just a short walk away. You’ll also find an onsite cafe and bar serving local and international cuisine.
- Prices from £70 / €80 for a twin room with private bathroom
- Check dates, prices and availability: Scandic Grand Tromso
Things To Do in Tromsø At Night
Depending on the time of year that you visit, you can experience a concert at the Arctic Cathedral which generally starts from 11.00pm. Listen to classical music or Norwegian folk tunes with a combination of organ music, piano or other instruments. A magical experience at night.
Take a star walk and embrace a silent Arctic night on a 7-hour snowshoe experience. Look for animal tracks and enjoy a campfire dinner in a small group.
If you are in Tromsø on a Sunday and find everything else closed, you could watch a movie in the oldest cinema in continuous use in Europe – Verdensteatret Kino. Built in 1916, it has various films and concerts and is worth a look inside.
Tromsø is a student city so it’s a great place to party but because alcohol is expensive you won’t find the locals heading out until late. On the weekends many of the bars and clubs are open until the early hours. Some cafes even have late-night openings. Head to the Beer Hall to start your night.
Meieriet is the city’s largest bar and has a DJ on Thursday nights. Circa is a cavernous bar and if you’re younger than 35 is a good place to party with electronic music and sometimes jazz.
Where to Eat in Tromsø
££ – Skirri. This restaurant seems to serve everything from Norwegian and Scandinavian to all kinds of European cuisine. It has an extensive lunch menu and offers gorgeous views of the fjord, all within a modern decor. Don’t forget to pay at the counter instead of waiting for the waiter to bring the bill. Find at Stortorget 1.
Restaurants for typical cuisine
££ – Bardus Bistro. This bistro offers delicious food served in an intimate ambience. You’ll find cod tongues, steak sandwiches and reindeer ragu on the menu here, all seasonal food inspired from southern Europe bistros. Find at Cora Sandels gate 4.
££ – Kaia Bar & Restaurant. This bistro overlooks the harbour. As well as Norwegian food, such as reindeer stew and fish soup, you’ll find traditional Sami cuisine and good burgers all with a good view in a homely environment. Find at Stortorget 2, Kai 11, off sjogata on the quay.
££ – Mathallen. The menu may be limited but the food is imaginative. In a modern setting with an open kitchen you’ll find Norwegian delights as well as fish burgers, crab soup and a selection of wines to accompany your leisurely lunch. They are also vegetarian-friendly. Find at Gronnegata 58/60.
££ – Aunegården. This quirky cafe was ironically once a butchers shop. Nowadays it’s a great stop for lunch with soups and sandwiches on the menu. You’ll also find vegetarian- friendly, and gluten-free options all served in a friendly atmosphere. Stop for a coffee and cafe in the afternoon too. Find at Sjoegata 29.
££ – Ra Sushi and Bar. This sushi restaurant sources ingredients from nearby areas. They offer a vegan set menu, veggie maki, and also gluten-free soy sauce. The service is fast and the staff are lovely. If you love sushi, this is the place to come in Tromso. Find at Skippergata 16.
Treat yourself at:
£££ – Emma’s Drømmekjøkken. This isn’t cheap but the service and quality of food are definitely worth the price. If you love great cuisine and amazing presentation you’ll love this highly renowned restaurant with its green inviting exterior. Find reindeer sausage, tongue, and whale carpaccio among its delicacies. It also has a good view of the cathedral. Find at Kirkegata 8.
Enjoy a coffee and a cake
There are so many good places for coffee here, as well as the two listed, you can enjoy delicious sweets in a spacious atmosphere at Kaffebønna. Or Smortorget – a cool cafe that triples up as a vintage shop and artist studio.
Lugar 34 – An intimate cafe offering coffee, hot chocolate, and scrummy cakes as well as lunch options. It’s so cosy and perfect for an afternoon break from sightseeing. They also have vegan choices too. Find at Storgata 34.
Risø Mat & Kaffebar – Specialising in coffee from Latin America and Africa, this is the place to come if you love your coffee beans. The service is excellent with smiley staff and baristas who know how to make a cup of coffee (or hot chocolate). Find at Strandgata 32.
If you just can’t get enough of Arctic cuisine and Norwegian food, then plan for a stop at Mathallen’s deli, adjacent to their well-respected restaurant. Here you will find plenty of fish products, cheeses, savoury and sweet treats, all inspired by traditional northern Norwegian culinary tradition.
Find Asian Healthy Foods at the Coop. The meals are cooked in front of you and you can choose from Thai and Chinese dishes. It’s a quick, cheap option for food. Find at Storgata 67, COOP corner in walking street.
Where to Drink: Bars in Tromsø
Hildr Gastro Bar – This gastropub is a good choice for a drink and a bite to eat early evening. The staff are so friendly and welcoming and will make you feel totally at ease being solo. They carefully select their cocktails, wines and beers. Find at Skippergata 11.
Mack’s Beer Hall – It’s the oldest pub in Tromsø built in 1928 and is full of character. It showcases beers made by the local microbrewery Mack and has so many beers on tap to choose from. The staff are super friendly and the beer hall feels really cosy. There is even a polar bear as part of the decor. Check the opening hours as it closes on some evenings. Find at Storgata 5-13.
Getting Around Tromsø
Nowhere is too far here and the places of interest are all within walking distance. You can walk from the Arctic Cathedral to the Bruvegen bridge for example. If you need to get a taxi, there are several taxi ranks in the city centre.
Buses are good here and you’ll find night buses on Friday and Saturday nights. Buses during the week start from 6am and you can buy your tickets onboard in cash. You can also buy day tickets too, a good idea if you’re travelling around the city in 24 hours. Check out the city routes, and a map of the bus stops in Tromsø.
Boats – You’ll also find good boat and ferry connections that depart at least daily. Venture to Finnsnes, Harstad, Skjervøy, Andenes and other places.
From Tromsø Airport
As well as taxis from the airport, an airport express coach runs between the airport and the city centre and only takes 15 minutes. Check the Airport Express timetable. There is also a normal city bus that goes to the airport (routes 40 and 42). Buy your ticket onboard or at Point Kiosk (costs approx NOK 50).
If you do take a taxi be prepared to pay more in the evenings and also on weekends. Taxis are approx NOK 200.
Buses run from the main bus station, Prostneset to various places outside of Tromsø. Take the bus to Sommarøy, Oldervik, or Ersfjordbotn.
Hurtigruten runs from here to various destinations in Norway, such as the Lofoten Islands, Trondheim and Bergen. Check Rome2Rio for onward journeys.
An hour away from Tromsø is Camp Tamok in Lyngsfjord where you can take a reindeer sled ride. If you don’t have your own car you can take a bus to the little island of Sommarøya (which has sandy beaches) from here.
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